Film ID:
NEFA 17533



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An account of the life and work of the steel community at Consett Iron Company, County Durham. Filmmaker Tom Stobart presents this documentary on the history of the Consett area, the changes at Consett Iron Company since the Second World War, the importance of iron ore, the manufacture of steel and the working lives of the steelworkers. Footage includes steelworkers talking about their working and social lives in the Smelters Arms public house before starting the night shift.

Title: Men of Consett

The film opens with a series of views of northern England that include moorland, Hadrian’s Wall, Bamburgh Castle, and Dunstanburgh Castle. Seagulls fly around cliffs. There are shots of the statue of St Aidan, views of the ruin of Lindisfarne Priory, seagulls in flight, and a stone cross. A view of Durham town, the cathedral and castle follow. From Durham Cathedral the camera pans down to the Old Fulling Mill and the River Wear.

There are landscape shots of a river, lake and fields. The camera pans from from a field of rosebay willow herb to a steaming coal heap by a coalmine in the background. A steam train crosses the Durham viaduct heading south, with terraced houses in the background.

Tom Stobart, the presenter, looks through binoculars. There is an iris view of the Consett Steel Works. Stobart, with a companion, walk along a country lane, probably to Carterway Heads. Tom walks with a stick and is limping. The scene changes to the exterior of the Stobart Arms public house. There is a close-up of the inn sign.The pub is closed so they continue their walk to the River Wear. A man is fly-fishing at the river. He is identified as Harry Raine from the Melting Shop and is introduced to Tom. The three men chat about what steelworkers like to do for recreation.

The scene cuts to the interior of the Stobart Arms. The landlord calls time. A group of five men stand at the bar finishing their beers. An older man, identified as Tommy drinks down his pint in one go. The presenter and customers leave. There is a sign for the inn and the glow from the blast furnaces is seen in the night sky.

There is a long shot of the steel works followed by a view from Derby Crescent, Moorside of the works. Men are going in to work on foot, two large cooling towers visible in the background. We see a sign for "Consett Iron Co. Ltd General Office & Steel Works". There is view of a blast furnace. Stobart is in the general manager's office looking at a print of the steel works in 1867 on the wall. The General Manager enters. Stobart comments that the works have changed a lot since the time of the prints. The manager replies that the works are always changing and growing. He explains why the numer of blast furnaces has been reduced from eight to three but still produce more steel. They take a seat and Stobart is offered a cigarette. The two men talk about the changes that have taken place at the works since Stobart was a small boy. Twenty million pounds have been spent on the expansion of the works since the end of the war and they are intending to spend thirty more. The manager is disturbed by a message on the intercom system asking him about a shipment of pig iron to Austria.

We are now outside where we can see three blast furnaces. Stobart is taken on a tour of the works.They stop as a steam train passes, transporting a large empty vat. We see Tommy, one of the men drinking from the previous scene, standing by a brick wall as the two pass by. Stobart is shown the first process - the production of iron. Three men prepare to tap the iron. One of the three men is introduced as Bob. Bob returns to the other two men and begins the tapping process. This is done by knocking a hole in the furnace using a drill. They are then shown poking the ore with long metal sticks. The oxygen lance is then inserted to burn out the tap hole. Sparks fly from the molten ore and the man holding the lance is wearing goggles and a leather apron. The iron is then shown being lead away by runners or sand channels. The iron is poured into large vats. The slag moves along the runner and led away into other large vats. There are various scenes of the process with many of the men silhouetted against the orange and yellows of the molten ore. The shots of the process are intercut with comments from and images of the presenter. Stobart washes up in a washroom and listens to the conversation of two managers about freight charges.

The next sequence features a series of industrial scenes along the River Tyne at Jarrow, North Shields and Tynemouth, showing the shipping (very crowded), unloading of cargo by cranes, shipbuilding and the river. Stobart is seen on the dockside next to the “Moisie Bay” cargo ship. An ore train, engine number 92063, pulls out from the docks after being loaded with iron ore for Consett, the presenter in the foreground of the picture. A ship is under construction at a shipyard. Stobart is seen looking at one of the ships. A steam train transporting ore pulls into the works at Consett, passing huge dumps of ore and coal.

There are night shots of the steel works, no blast furnace glow. Harry Raine (as seen before) leaves his house for the night shift. There is an exterior shot of The Smelters Arms public house at Castleside. Inside the pub the landlord is telling a joke to assembled drinkers including Stobart. Harry Raine enters the bar and they leave together for the night shift. There is an exterior shot of the Smelters Arms.

The next sequence is of the steel production. Stobart is introduced to the night shift and work inside the melting shop, with various shots of the presenter accompanied through the works, intercut with dramatic shots of the working processes. There are interior shots of the furnace,drilling holes into the old plug, iron led through runners and of molten iron poured into vats. The processes are described, including testing the steel. The molten steel runs free, and there are shots of rolling the steel.

Scenes of the presenter with other men in suits washing up after the heat and dirt of the steel works factory floor.

The film cuts to various scenes of an industrial River Tyne and docks. A ship is under construction. A steam ship sails under the Tyne Bridge. A large green crane is moving in a shipyard. There is a construction site consisting of a mass of steel girders. Next, there is a shot of a large satellite dish, radio telescope, in a field.

Stobart is asleep with his chin in his left hand. A train whistle blows and he wakes up. He is on a railway platform. There is a high angle shot of a train approaching a rural station, probably Rowley Station. The presenter talks to the engine driver and boards the train. The station master waves a flag and the steam train pulls away. A young boy chases the train down the platform, waving.

Credit: Produced for the British Iron and Steel Industry by Interfilm (in association with The Film Producers Guild).

Credit: Directed by Tom Stobart who appeared in the film and featuring the men of Consett whose contribution is gratefully acknowledged.

Credit: Photograph Fred Gamage
Credit: Editor Sagovsky
Credit: Dudding Editor Michael Shah Dayan
Credit: Sound Recording Ron Abbott
Credit: Associate Producer G. Buckland Smith
Credit: Produced and Introduced Geoffrey Sumner